Although you’ve probably never heard of Chicago-based 16” on Center, chances are you’ve stumbled upon (or more likely, out of) one of their growing number of bars, restaurants and music venues. And while their name is derived from the construction term meaning the center mark that creates the strongest build, their ‘brand’ is the gestalt of each unique location they launch, or more importantly, the resulting community it nurtures and supports. From Evanston to Hyde Park, Ukrainian Village to Logan Square, and Pilsen to the Loop—just to name a few footprints—16” on Center’s venues draw Chicagoans out of their homes, enabling them to unplug, engage and be part of their neighborhoods.
Their calling is simultaneously simple yet real: to build bedrock neighborhood establishments, places where people want to hang out. It all began in 1992 with native son, Bruce Finkelman, and his now legendary neighborhood dive saloon and music venue in Ukrainian Village called the Empty Bottle. From its inception, and firmed in the foundation of its current location in 1993, the Empty Bottle has been a cultural mecca for great music, cheap beer and some of the best alternative rock and jazz in the city. It’s one of the few places in Chicago where you are likely to see the next big indie band without the buzz or the bullshit. And nearly 25 years later, this is the same seed that has inspired a portfolio of amazing hangouts, an army of loyal fans, and the endorsement of Michelin stars and Anthony Bourdain.